This is the 1st part of a 3 part series about extracting yourself from a relationship that’s no longer serving you.
One of the hardest things you’ll ever have to do as a guy is look at a woman you love and tell her that your relationship is over.
There are people out there that claim it’s painless, and that you shouldn’t care, but anyone who has had a genuine connection with a woman and been forced to end it knows that it’s never painless.
The thing with breakups is sometimes they creep up on you. I can’t speak for everyone, but there’s never been a time in any of my relationships where I’ve woken up and decided I need to break it off with my girlfriend. While some are more obviously screeching towards a final destination style end, sometimes you just need to go your separate ways.
Regardless of the circumstances, there comes a time when both you and your girlfriend will be better off by pulling the cord as opposed to prolonging a relationship that isn’t working. At the end of the day, most relationships are meant to run their course.
Here’s how to recognize when it’s time for you to set your own course, without your girlfriend.
1: You’ve stopped laughing (and having fun)
No matter how great your girlfriend is, not everything you do together is going to be fun. I still don’t enjoy tag-teaming the cat’s litter box, even though I love doing just about everything else with my girlfriend.
I’ve spent years studying successful relationships and every single successful relationship has two things in common: mutual respect, and the ability to have fun with your partner.
Think about it intuitively. I’m sure you were initially drawn to your girlfriend because of her looks. However, you get used to those over time. Fun, on the other hand, remains timeless. As people, we’re naturally drawn to those we can have fun with because it signifies a common bond and personal compatibility.
Now think about your girlfriend. A great barometer for how well your relationship is going is how often you two are able to laugh. Fun and laughter go hand in hand. How often do you two laugh and have fun together?
I’ve found that as laughter declines in a relationship, so does the level of overall relationship satisfaction. If you go out to a restaurant, you see it all the time. You’ll see couples sitting together, but not smiling and laughing. The glazed look in their eyes is exactly what you want to avoid – they’re not engaged and present in their relationship.
Quite frankly, it’s pretty fucking sad.
If you find yourself getting to the point where you no longer have fun with your girlfriend, spending time with her is going to seem like a chore, and you’re eventually going to become resentful which will poison you if you let it.
2: You’ve stopped dating your girlfriend
Dating and seduction are a continuous process that goes on well past the courtship stage.
What tends to happen is we get comfortable as men and stop dating our girlfriends. We stop taking the time to do the little things we used to do at the beginning of the relationship.
Whether that’s surprising our girlfriends with dates, or doing little things like helping them do the dishes. This also means you’ve stopped working on seducing her, settling for dispassionate sex instead.
Of course, the passion will decrease as you grow into your relationship. That’s a normal part of being together with someone for an extended period of time.
However, if you find yourself lacking the enthusiasm to keep courting your girlfriend well into the relationship – you need to take a hard look at yourself and figure out why.
There’s always a reason, and it’s an uncomfortable one.
3: You’re not communicating well
Good communication is crucial for a harmonious relationship.
I can read minds, but I still have no idea that my girlfriend wants red roses instead of pink. Yeah, communication can be that simple.
At the end of the day, it’s unrealistic to expect your girlfriend to be able to automatically understand your needs and wants without communicating them. If you’re reading this, I’m sure there has been some frustration on your part because your girlfriend isn’t Nostradamus.
For the record, Nostradamus got a lot a lot of shit wrong, and used plenty of vague language.
Which is exactly what you don’t want to do with your girlfriend.
Now, you and your girlfriend might be talking, but are you really understanding each other or are you just filling the silence? We have a tendency to equate talking with simply preventing that awkward silence without much consideration in to what we’re actually saying.
Of course, it doesn’t matter if you two are both fucking scarecrows as long as you can be clear about your needs to each other. Its when you stop doing this, and spend time talking but not understanding that your relationship will start to go downhill.
If you can’t find the will or the way to make up for the lack of communication, your relationship is on it’s way downhill.
Think about the things you need in a relationship. Are those needs being met by your girlfriend? If not, can you communicate to her what you actually feel? It doesn’t matter what it is, but if you feel like you’re not supposed to want it, or you’re not allowed to ask, the answer on her end is no.
If it becomes impossible to bring these up without a fight, it’s time to move on.
4: Your fights are increasing in frequency and duration
As much as I like going from fight to fight when I’m on the BJJ mat, I hate fighting at home.
It’s just not as fun trading punches with my girlfriend.
I’m joking of course, but it doesn’t change the fact that if you are your girlfriend are starting to fight more often, there’s a serious problem with your relationship.
A few years ago I was in a relationship with a quiet and introverted girl named Paige, who never raised her voice in the beginning of the relationship. By the time I decided to pull the cord, she was yelling about everything from the way I cooked food to when I didn’t text her back.
It was not a fun time, but more than anything it was indicative of a fundamental truth in relationships: good relationships have fights, but they don’t have fights often. We all have the occasional flare up. It’s when your relationship becomes a never-ending campaign of verbal sparring, arguing, and straight up fighting that you need to extract yourself.
You shouldn’t tolerate any drama in your relationship, much less frequent fighting. Constant fighting is a sign that something is fundamentally lacking in your relationship, and rather than dealing with it like adults, you are choosing to fight about it instead.
Plain and simple: arguments are caused by poor communication. If you’re not willing to make an effort to communicate better, the relationship is already over.
While we’re talking about poor communication…
5: There’s a lack of trust between you two
When was the last time you fucked up?
I’m not talking about any normal fuck up, like forgetting your wallet on a trip to the store. I’m talking a nuclear-level, holy shit, get to the choppa type fuck up.
Think about this nuclear level fuck up for a second. If you told your girlfriend about it, what do you think would happen?
Would she go supernova and have you two on Jerry Springer? Or would she look at you, shake her head, and give you honest effort to resolve the problem?
I think back to my first relationship, way back in my high school years. Around the time I got together with my first girlfriend, I also liked another girl. Being a dumb 17 year old, I got together with my girlfriend, and then kissed the other girl. I kissed her once, but some of her friends saw it and word got around.
In the grand scheme of things, I didn’t think it was a big deal. But my girlfriend at the time did. While I apologized and never did it again, the issue kept cropping up years later. It was at this point I realized that I had never quite regained her trust for something I had done years ago.
Once I realized that, it made sense why she was perpetually nervous when I was around other women. The funny part was about a year after my incident, she also made out with another guy while we were a year into our relationship. I forgave her and forgot all about it, and was none the worse for wear.
Healthy relationships are built on trust, and trust comes from being able to forgive your partner for not being perfect. If your girlfriend can’t trust you, and otherwise can’t let things go, it’s time to bail.
6: You no longer support each other like you used to
You know that feeling when you do a trust fall, and no one catches you?
When you’re in free-fall and you realize no arms are there to catch you, and you hit the ground harder than Vontaze after Juju laid the wood.
Of course, realizing your girlfriend is no longer supporting you like she used to doesn’t feel like getting laid out. On a more metaphorical level though, it should.
Your girlfriend is supposed to be in your corner, always. It doesn’t always mean she has to agree with what you’re doing. It means that she can accept you, and not seek to chip away at your resolve during the relationship.
If your girlfriend isn’t able to respect your feelings, it’s going to lead to resentment down the road, which will poison your relationship.
Equally dangerous is when you find yourself going through a rough time, that your girlfriend is insensitive. While it is on you as a man to keep yourself composed and find a solution, if you can’t lean on her at all, what are you doing?
What happens if it’s something potentially more serious?
7: You don’t find her attractive anymore
This is a no-brainer. You might not want to rip your girlfriend’s clothes off every hour of the day, but you should still be physically attracted to her. To be clear, I’m only talking about physical attraction here.
Your relationship is dead when that last spark of desire winks out of existence. While many counselors claim that you can re-kindle the desire with time and effort, on a purely physical level I disagree with them.
Once that desire is gone, that’s it. A lot of times this happens several years into the relationship. Your girlfriend might stop putting in the effort she used to at the beginning of the relationship. She might gain weight, or stop dressing like she used to. Perhaps the features that initially attracted you to her fade.
It happens, and it’s unavoidable.
This can happen whether or not she’s still attracted to you.
On the flip side, it’s possible she’s becoming less attractive to you because you’re becoming less attractive to her. Are you getting into the gym, and otherwise taking good care of yourself? If you’re not, how can you expect her to?
Part of being a man is having a woman that you find attractive. It motivates you to do greater things, and keeps your relationship interesting. If you aren’t attracted to her, you won’t be anywhere near as motivated to make the effort in the relationship no matter how much you love her.
8: You find yourself wondering “what if?”
Having “what-ifs” is a natural part of being human. We’re all going to have them occasionally.
It’s when they become more frequent, more pertinent, and more painful that you need to start paying attention to them.
Part of being a man is having a vision for where you want to go with your life, and then being able to plan what you do based on that vision. The practice of living deliberately allows you to be specific about the people and circumstances in your life.
There are many men right now that have women preventing them from having a vision of their life. This isn’t to say that women are evil. It’s to say that the day to day reality of a relationship can keep a guy from that higher level thinking.
Chances are, if you want more from your life than you’ve currently gotten, you’re not living deliberately. Ask yourself: am I going after what I truly want? If not, how do I get there? Who will I need to support me?
In my case, I’ve had several instances where I’ve closely studied my life’s vision and had to adjust personal and professional relationships. It led me to move across the country, and break up with two girlfriends among other things.
9: She’s preventing you from doing what you want or need to do
It doesn’t matter what it is.
Whether it’s a trip you want to take, or a business you want to build, if she’s stopping you from doing what you really want to do, your relationship is already over.
Sure, it might soldier on for a few years until the quiet desperation simmers into roiling discontent.
But it will end, eventually.
To be a man is to have purpose in what you do, as well as to unapologetically follow your passion. You know if she’s holding you back. It might be she’s holding you back actively, by resisting changes you want to make. It can also be her passively holding you back, when you’re afraid to ask for her approval in doing what you want.
The bottom line is you shouldn’t have to compromise the big things in a relationship. You want to find someone who is aligned with the life and lifestyle you want to pursue.
If that’s not her, you need to let her go.
10: You want it to be over
The simplest reason why it’s over? You want it to be over.
When people find themselves looking for a reason to justify breaking up, you already have the reason inside of you.
If you’re determined for it to end, it already has.
So let her go.